WWE Hall Of Famer Steve Austin was recently joined by current WWE Superstar Sasha Banks on The Steve Austin Show. During the podcast, Banks talked about her 'Legit Boss' persona, how she realized she needed to develop a character, and whether she prefers working as a babyface or heel. Also, Austin shared some insight regarding the development of his own 'Stone Cold' character.
According to Austin, Banks' 'Legit Boss' gimmick is one of his favorite gimmicks today. Additionally, Austin shared that he prefers Banks' work as a heel.
"I love the 'Legit Boss' gimmick," Austin said. "It's one of my favorite gimmicks going. She plays it to a T. She's working babyface now. Quite frankly, I just love her as a heel because of that swagger that she has."
Austin added, "I love Sasha Banks 'The Legit Boss' as a heel because that's when I feel [she is] on full-on [her] persona, [her] character, [her] system."
Banks would concur with Austin's assessment, stating her preference for working as a heel as she feels more like herself as a heel.
"I've been thinking about that a lot lately because usually I just say, 'both' just to give that bland answer. But I do enjoy working heel," Banks admitted. "It's I feel more comfortable. I feel more free. I feel like I'm being more myself because I can really be like, 'yeah, I'm the s--t.' Do you know what I mean? Which I feel like it's hard to be as a babyface, but in today's day and age, I feel like today's babyfaces are really the heels in our heels are now the babyfaces because that's what our fans are cheering now. The fans are cheering the heels and booing the babyfaces because they want to see people kick ass. They want to see them saying stuff and doing stuff in more of a gritty way than being all, 'yeah, I'm going to kick your butt because I'm a good guy!' Ugh! It drives me [insane]… Exactly, everyone plays by the rules! It drives me insane. I hate it."
Banks acknowledged that she is still learning how to be a babyface.
"It's very hard [being a babyface] and I'm still learning to be a babyface every day and the only… I don't want to say the 'only', but the number one reason I love it is the kids. I love seeing little kids dressed up as you. Yeah."
Banks explained that her character is an extension of herself, or at least an inebriated version of herself.
"I do say it's myself 'turnt' up, all the way up. It's me when I'm… if I've had a couple of drinks, a couple of vodkas. That's what Sasha Banks is: letting loose, all the way up, doesn't care what she says, doesn't care what feelings she hurts."
During the interview, Banks recalled that she realized that she needed a character when she was in developmental and in danger of being looked upon as merely a good hand.
"I was just a very bland babyface, doing all the moves that I wanted to do, not really understanding telling a story and everything. And that was the same person who walked into FCW when I got signed, same, just happy to be there. I was happy to be there, doing my job, this and that, until finally I was like, 'I need more. I need a character. I need a character because that's what the fans connect to. Once they connect to that, then they'll start appreciating your work.'"
Banks explained, "I didn't come here to be a good hand. I didn't come here just to be a person to, I don't want to say, 'put over', just to make someone look good. I came here to be a WWE Superstar and I took that to heart."
Austin shared a related story, recalling that he did not go to WWE when he was viewed as merely a good hand.
"The first few times when I could've come to the WWF, back in the day, I didn't because they saw me as a mechanic. And yeah, I could have good matches with people, but that's as far as they saw me. So on the third time, that's when I eventually came and they put 'The Ringmaster' on me. That sucked, but it was a foot in the door and they called me rather than me [calling] them. WCW had fired me and there was only so long I could stay in ECW under the learning tree of Paul Heyman, which was instrumental to me finding out what a character needed to be and learning how to cut a promo."
Banks said that she took the advice of Tyler Breeze to come up with ideas for new characters and the first idea she came up with was 'The Boss'. Banks decided to embrace her familial ties with rap icon and WWE Hall Of Famer Snoop Dogg with a character of which the late great Dusty Rhodes approved.
"I talked to Tyler Breeze too because he was in the same boat as me of not having a character and he told me the same thing: like, have different names, have different characters, have different bios for them, and go to promo class and see what sticks. The first thing that came to mind was 'The Boss' because it was like, 'you need to accept that you're Snoop Dogg's cousin.' People call him 'The Boss' all the time, so I'm going to be this flashy, cocky character because truly, I don't like saying it, that's what I am. I knew at the time that I was the best women's wrestler in that place [NXT]. The best. And if I believed in my heart if I showed it to these people, I bet that they'll believe me because I believe myself. How could you not believe me? The first promo I did was in front of Dusty and I was like, 'I'm the meanest. I'm the baddest. I am the prettiest. I am the boss of NXT.' And I remember Dusty saying, 'that's the sassy Sasha that I wanted to see all along!'"
Banks continued, "[Rhodes] was like, 'I always pictured you being sassy. I want to see sassiness.' And I couldn't find my sassiness until I found 'The Legit Boss'. And every week I'd work on my promos and he'd just be like, 'there's something to this.'"
Notably, Austin divulged that he did not feel as though he had a character as 'Stunning' Steve Austin.
"We were riding to Memphis, Tennessee. It was myself, and 'Doctor' Tom Prichard, and 'Prime Time' Brian Lee. Tom looked over at me and he goes, 'Steve,' he goes, 'what's so 'stunning' about 'Stunning' Steve?' And I had never thought about what a character was. That was just a name Dutch Mantel had given me when I was a heel. So I didn't know. There was nothing 'stunning' about me! I wasn't particularly a great looking guy back in the day and the gimmick I had, the wardrobe, was nickel and dime. I was just a cocky, arrogant guy. That was it! That was my whole schtick! And I would ask Ricky Steamboat when he came to WCW and I said, 'what am I missing?' 'I don't think you're missing anything, Steve.' I was missing the character. When I got a chance to harness and unleash and create and cultivate and grow 'Stone Cold', that's when it turned into what it turned into."
When asked whether Snoop Dogg helped come up with 'The Boss' character for Banks, the former NXT Women's Champion responded in the negative, claiming that she dropped her bland babyface character like it was hot and ripped off Snoop Dogg's 'boss' persona in its place. While Banks was not around Snoop Dogg much growing up, the pair bonded over pro wrestling.
"No, I stole his 'boss' persona. He's my cousin, but we're not very close. People always think we're like best friends or cousins-cousins and grew up together and went to each other's houses to hang out, but no. I didn't meet this guy until maybe I was 12 [years old] and he came to Iowa for a concert and anytime he came around we would always go to the concert and this and that. And he told me he loved wrestling and I told him that I love wrestling and that was our bond. And anytime he went to [a WWE event], like one time he hosted RAW, or if I was he was hosting WrestleMania or doing the Divas match, I was like, 'please bring me with you' and every time he did. And that was our bond, the love of wrestling and we always talk about wrestling and I told him I wanted to be a wrestler when I grow up and he told me, 'hey, if that's your dream, go get it,' so it's so crazy that he did that, was it WrestleMania 32, he did that entrance and I was like, 'how is this possible? It's so cool! What a dream come true of having a legend in the rap game coming out and doing your entrance? That's your family member too, so that's awesome.'"
While Banks came up with 'The Boss' gimmick without her famous cousin's help, WWE paid the cost to trademark 'The Legit Boss'.
"Well, I came up with just 'The Boss' and I think it was the TakeOver where I interrupted Charlotte and Bayley's match, and they were making me a shirt and they needed to trademark something, so they just said, 'Legit Boss' and I was like, 'okay…' You know when you first hear stuff and you're not really used to it? Same thing with my first theme song. I didn't like it. I thought it sounded really girly."
Banks added, "I'm just happy I had a shirt. And then, it's easy. You just know 'Legit Boss' and that's me. If anyone says 'The Boss' you know it's Sasha Banks, which is really cool."
Open up a Steveweiser here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: The Steve Austin Show